- The Washington Times - Friday, December 7, 2001

For most of us, trying to sort out the good guys from the bad guys is not terribly difficult. The bad guys hijacked four American airplanes on September 11, crashed one of them into the Pennsylvania countryside, one into the Pentagon and two into New York's World Trade Center. The good guys are now dropping bombs on and shooting it out with the bad guys in Afghanistan. It really is that simple. But some of you see gray areas cluttered with Islam, Judaism, the ways of the West, even oil and utter pacifism. Don't go there because some of the bad guys are Arabs and Middle Easterners, and some are not. Some of the good guys are Americans and some are not.

In fact, some of the bad guys are American, born right here in the good ol' USA. John Walker Lindh was born in Washington. He first changed his name by simply dropping Lindh and using his mother's maiden name. Then, a la Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali) and Malcolm Little (Malcolm X), he adopted Islam and changed his name to the Arabic Sulayman al Faris. Then, again following what Malcolm did, he changed his name after spending time in the Middle East to Abdul Hamid. After all, bad guys use aliases all the time to keep you guessing.

Now, it is important that those of you who have trouble distinguishing the bad guys from the good guys picture Mr. Walker's metamorphosis in four short years, because he obviously has changed so much that his own mother and father seem to have trouble recognizing him.

Indeed, Mr. Walker's parents hadn't seen him since February 2000, his last visit home, and they hadn't had contact with him since May of this year, when, by e-mail, he told his folks that he had planned to move to cooler climes. When Mr. Walker stumbled from the bowels of a fortress controlled by the Northern Alliance, he was sporting not only a sooted face, long hair and beard, and a rail-thin frame, but also an AK-47 the very weapon Osama bin Laden and the Taliban used against the commies. These days Mr. Walker is in a military hospital being treated for grenade and gunshot wounds, and his parents are trying to get to him with a lawyer, and for good reason.

In all likelihood, Mr. Walker, 20, is not only a bad guy but a traitor. His parents and friends, though, want us to think he is a young, naive and impressionable "boy" who was brainwashed by the Islamic extremists he hung out with first in Yemen, then in northern Pakistan, hard against its border with Afghanistan, and, finally (and coincidentally?), in Afghanistan itself. They don't want you to remember that picture of him emerging from that cave with that AK-47. They want you to imagine him as some "poor fellow," as President Bush called him some poor, pathetic fellow who doesn't know the good guys from the bad guys, and who doesn't know right from wrong.

Well, people are always trying to play tricks on you and sometimes they succeed. The Israelis did it 1999. That is when they refused to extradite Samuel Sheinbein, 18, of Montgomery County, who fled to Tel Aviv because he faced murder charges in Maryland in the cold-blooded killing of another teen, whose body was dismembered, burned and found in an abandoned home near Sheinbein's. Understand, Sheinbein's father was born in Israel, and Israeli law says his man-child is also an Israeli citizen. The law is the law.

In the case of Mr. Walker, citizenship is the issue as well. If he is declared a U.S. citizen, he could be charged with treason in a U.S. court. If he is declared a non-U.S. citizen, Mr. Walker could be tried by a special military tribunal, or left in the hands of the Northern Alliance. Understand, as well, he might be a U.S. citizen no more if he pledged allegiance to another government or joined the army of a hostile government. You must remember, that fortress he emerged from was the site of a bloody prison uprising that left a CIA officer, Johnny Spann, dead. And, in case you didn't know, Mr. Walker was covered with soot because the anti-Taliban forces had tried to smoke them out of hiding. He took up arms against you.

So, don't go wobbly when it's time to line up the bad guys. Our folks stood tall during World War II, and Mr. Walker's offenses are far more serious than propaganda-mongrels Tokyo Rose and Ezra Pound, who were charged with treason. The law is the law.

Besides, this is the same John Walker who, having left his folks in February 2000 acting antsy and feeling restless, told his father that the sheer fact that the USS Cole was docked in Yemen, an Islamic country, was an "act of war" and the bombing of U.S. sailors was justifiable.

Apparently, his parents want you to think there isn't any bad guy at all. They want to blame a book, Alex Haley's "The Autobiography of Malcolm X," which Mr. Walker read in high school. They don't want you to see the bad guy who discarded his family and his American way of life, adopted a new religion, new homeland and new way of life, changed his name from John to Sulayman to Abdul and, as many others have professed and shown us, believed with his heart and soul and AK-47 that we are the bad guys.

Well, folks, all I can say is there is something terribly wrong with that picture.

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